Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin

Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin

Gene Barretta
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Henry Holt and Co, 2006   ISBN: 978-0805079173

Benjamin Franklin was truly a man who was born ahead of his time. He was a busy inventor, and several of his inventions, unlike most of the devices and tools created by his contemporaries,  are still in use today. For example, Benjamin invented bifocal glasses  and today millions of people wear bifocals so they don’t have to keep changing their glasses to see things close to or far away. He invented the lightening rod, and many homeowners in the present day have these devices on their roofs to protect their homes from being destroyed by a lightning strike. Benjamin also invented the first clock with a second hand, and created the first odometer. Every modern day car has an odometer on its dashboard, and many clocks and watches have a second hand.

Today we take for granted the libraries, post offices, fire departments, and sanitation departments which can be found in every town and city. In Benjamin’s time these facilities did not exist, so he helped organize the first of each one of these valuable services. Many of us don't even know that Benjamin Franklin helped to make the world a better place by working in the diplomatic field. Certainly the United States owes him a great debt for all the duties he performed in his country's name during and after the American Revolution.

The author of this engaging and interesting book shows his readers how Benjamin Franklin’s world differed from our own, and how he worked hard to improve conditions for people living more than 200 years ago. The illustrations show the modern world alongside that of the mid 1700’s, which helps readers see the past and the present side by side,  and thus shows, to great effect, how advanced Benjamin Franklin’s ideas were.